Bancs is a pseudonymous Englandbased graffiti artist, political
activist, film director, and painter.
His satirical street art and subversive epigrams combine dark
humour with graffity done in a distinctive stencilling technique. Such artistic
works of political and social commentary have been featured on
streets, walls, and bridges of cities throughout the world
The son of a photocopier technician, he trained as a butcher but became involved in
graffiti during the great Bristol aerosol boom of the late 1980s." Observers have noted
that his style is similar to Blek le Rat who began to work with stencils in 1981 in Paris.
Xavier Prou (Blek le Rat)
"Ballerina" by Blek le Rat at the
941 Geary Gallery, San Francisco
Early career (1992–2001)
Banksy was inspired by local artists
and his work was part of the
larger Bristol underground
scene with Nick
Walker, Inkie and 3D.From the start
he used stencils as elements of his
freehand pieces, too. By 2000 he had
turned to the art of stencilling after
realising how much less time it took to
complete a piece. He claims he
changed to stencilling while he was
hiding from the police under a rubbish
lorry, when he noticed the stencilled
serial number and by employing this
technique, he soon became more
widely noticed for his art around
Bristol and London.[He played football
with the Easton Cowboys and
Cowgirls in the 1990s and toured with
the club to Mexico in 2001.
In July 2011 one of Banksy's early
works, Gorilla in a Pink Mask, which
had been a prominent landmark on
the exterior wall of a former social club
in Eastville for over ten years, was
unknowingly painted over after the
premises became a Muslim cultural
In August 2004, Banksy produced a quantity of spoof British £10 notes substituting the picture of the Queen's head
with Diana, Princess of Wales's head and changing the text "Bank of England" to "Banksy of England." Someone threw
a large wad of these into a crowd at Notting Hill Carnival that year, which some recipients then tried to spend in local
shops. These notes were also given with invitations to a Santa's Ghetto exhibition by Pictures on Walls. The individual
notes have since been selling on eBay for about £200 each. A wad of the notes were also thrown over a fence and into
the crowd near the NME signing tent at The Reading Festival. A limited run of 50 signed posters containing ten uncut
notes were also produced and sold by Pictures on Walls for £100 each to commemorate the death of Princess Diana.
One of these sold in October 2007 at Bonhams auction house in London for £24,000.
Banksy held an exhibition called Barely Legal, billed as a "three-day vandalised warehouse extravaganza" in
Los Angeles, on the weekend of 16 September 2006. The exhibition featured a live "elephant in a room,"
painted in a pink and gold floral wallpaper pattern, which, according to leaflets handed out at the exhibition,
was intended to draw attention to the issue of world poverty. Although the Animal Services Department had
issued a permit for the elephant, after complaints from animal rights activists, the elephant appeared
unpainted on the final day. Its owners rejected claims of mistreatment and said that the elephant had done
"many, many movies. She's used to makeup." Banksy also made artwork displaying Queen Victoria as a
lesbian and satirical pieces that incorporated art made by Andy Warhol and Leonardo da Vinci.
The Banksy effect (2006–2007)
After Christina Aguilera bought an original of Queen Victoria as a lesbian and two prints for
£25,000, on 19 October 2006, a set of Kate Moss paintings sold in Sotheby's London for
£50,400, setting an auction record for Banksy's work. The six silk-screen prints, featuring the model
painted in the style of Andy Warhol's Marilyn Monroe pictures, sold for five times their estimated
value. His stencil of a green Mona Lisa with real paint dripping from her eyes sold for £57,600 at the
same auction In December, journalist Max Foster coined the phrase, "the Banksy effect," to illustrate
how interest in other street artists was growing on the back of Banksy's success.